The Livestock Health and Pest Authority is urging property owners to discard any old batteries which may be laying around to avoid lead poisoning in stock.
According to Ian Poe, Mid Coast LHPA Senior District Veterinarian, consumption of lead by stock can cause death and unacceptable residues in meat and offal in animals that survive.
“Lead poisoning is most common in young stock and is probably related to their greater curiosity,” he said.
“Milk-fed calves are especially susceptible as the absorption of lead is greater in animals on a milk diet compared to grain or pasture fed animals”.
Lead toxicity is characterised by neurological signs including staggering, muscle tremors, blindness, muscle twitching, bellowing, aggression and teeth grinding. Convulsions may be seen as death approaches.
“Diagnosis of lead poisoning is based on clinical signs, elevated lead in blood or kidney, and finding a lead source. At post mortem lead may be found in the stomach,” said Dr Poe.
“Unfortunately treatment is usually unsuccessful.”
In addition to lead batteries, lead-based paint may be a source of lead, especially where it is flaking.
“By ensuring stock do not have access to lead sources you can prevent deaths but also minimise the risk of unacceptable residues in livestock products,” said Dr Poe.
Please contact your local LHPA or private veterinarian if you suspect lead poisoning in your stock.